Wherein I debate the placement of inciting incidents

More and more, readers expect their inciting incident (or the event after which nothing is the same for your protagonist) to happen lickety split. I get it, it answers the question – why am I reading here, anyhow?

If you’re writing for kids – middle grade even more so than young adult – you’ve got to answer that question even earlier. Put your readers on the speedy walkway…you know the ones at the airport…and whoosh them into your story. Do it within the first three pages. The earlier the better.

Setup and backstory are distilled to their smallest possible selves.


If some worldbuilding is required, and if your whodunit needs some setup in order for the gun to smoke at the appropriate moment…setup and backstory can be a bit bossier. They get a bit bulkier. Maybe a scene is required.

A small scene. Introducing the story problem in way that is full of conflict and curiousness…I promise.

We’ll see. Maybe it will get chopped up and sprinkled in later. Maybe it will get plopped into the middle of the inciting incident as a flashback.

I’ll letcha know.

What are your strategies for inciting incidents?



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